THEY are the no-frills end-of-life ceremonies without pomp and pageantry - or even mourners.

In a move inspired by the funerals of David Bowie and novelist Anita Brookner, Co-op is now offering “simple” cremation services for the first time in Scotland without any grieving families present.

The so-called ‘direct cremation’ has become a huge market in the USA accounting for around one third of all cremations.

And following a trial involving around 50 funerals in Glasgow, Britain's largest funeral director is set to roll out the £1,230 lone cremation in Scotland.


They found that in six months in Glasgow the number of no frills cremations carried out rose from 5.8 per cent to 12.5 per cent of total cremations.

The trial was restricted to the Co-op's funeral homes where they found that the bereaved were increasingly looking for no-fuss options and had some referred to David Bowie's no-fanfare approach. The music legend chose to be cremated secretly with no loved-ones present in a growing trend among people who want to 'go without any fuss'.

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The new service called Cremation Without Ceremony costs less than half that of a traditional funeral, but the Co-op found that the decision to use it is not necessarily driven by price alone.


Co-op has found that by not including a service, it gives families the chance to remember their loved one in their own way at a location of their choosing. Whether that be through a memorial service, a family get together or scattering the ashes at a place they loved.

Caroline Jones, head of propositions for Co-op Funeralcare and Later Life Planning, said that she believed the growth in direct cremations has been the result of the sharing of experiences on the internet, which has made the bereaved realise there are alternatives to traditional funerals and cremations.

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She said: "We wanted to understand why clients were choosing it and whether there was a demand for it. We thought there might be demand but through the trials we started to understand why it was something that families and clients were choosing and it allowed us to make sure there was a real demand for the service which there was.

"Some talked about direct cremation as a term, and talked about things they had heard about like the David Bowie kind of funeral.

"Others would talk about having something that was no stress at all. It is rarely about cost or money, it's very much about choice.


"Because of the increase in non-religious ceremonies, people want a different way to celebrate and remember people. Also because families are very much spread across the country and a bit disparate that can mean it is difficult to get everyone together in one place when you are timebound.

"Quite often it is the choice of the people that have passed away. They say that what they really do not want is for lots of money to be spent and have a big funeral and make a lot of fuss. They absolutely just want the simplest possible service you can find."

Cremation now accounts for 70 per cent of all funerals, and research carried out by Royal London last year found that 10 per cent of all cremations did not involve a ceremony or service.

Its survey found three quarters of the "no-frills" cremations took place during the last three years.

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Ms Jones said the no mourners cremations allow family and friends to set a date for their own personal ceremony, which could involve scattering ashes somewhere where the deceased really loved.


She said: "It's a cremation without ceremony, it's an unattended cremation, so the family and the relatives do not attend the crematorium, and they can choose what they do with the ashes afterwards. They can scatter them, they can keep them. They feel it is a little bit of a break from the norm.

"This allows them to do something that they feel is more personal to that person at a time when it is easy and appropriate for them, because they have the ashes to do that.

"For a lot of people it feels more intimate and more personal than a big funeral."

But why now?

"I think it comes down to British culture in that it takes us a while to really latch onto things, we are not very good as a nation at talking about death at all. And that definitely has changed in the last ten years in that people have become more comfortable talking about their own mortality," said Ms Jones.

"I think with advent of social media and sharing things on the internet, I think people realise there are other options."

READ MORE: Child burial and cremations fees to be abolished

In the US, direct cremations are described on the New York State’s health department website as “the disposition of human remains by cremation without a formal viewing, visitation, or ceremony".

It is also variously described as one of the more affordable ways to dispose of someone who has passed away, costing between $700 to $900.